One could be forgiven for taking a listen to the new one from Wussy, Forever Sounds, out now on Shake It Records, and thinking it was 1994. (And that's not a slam 'cause I really think that that may have been one of the last great moments in American rock.) That is not at all to say that Wussy is simply a newer version of Chuck Cleaver's college radio-era mainstays Ass Ponys but, rather, to say that Cleaver and his crew know their way around a big, big guitar hook. Doubt me? Spin "She's Killed Hundreds", all "Gigantic"-style Pixies riffs that roar into your eardrums. On other songs, when Lisa Walker takes over on vocal duties, like on the sinewy "Dropping Houses", the effect is a more subtle one.
And that sort of interplay is the key to what makes Forever Sounds such a successful record. There's both a sense of how to translate what would in other hands be amorphous alt-rock into something catchy ("Hello, I'm A Ghost") and of how to turn around and offer up the sort of languid, Mazzy Star-meets-Yo La Tengo explorations of "Better Days". On "Hand Of God" and "Donny's Death Scene" things reflect the heritage of American indie from Cleaver's own Ass Ponys, and back to early Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth sides. Elsewhere, on stuff like "Sidewalk Sale", Cleaver's vocals might recall late period Warren Zevon but his excellent guitar-work makes a listener think of classic Neil Young cuts.
And what makes this sixth long-player from Wussy such a winning proposition is that range of influences behind Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker and the other musicians -- Mark Messerly, Joe Klug, and John Erhardt -- on Forever Sounds. Bold, brash guitar hooks brush up against more melodic moments throughout this record and Wussy successfully weld both aspects without ever once losing sight of what makes a great hook and a great song.
Wussy will be playing D.C.'s Black Cat next week with D.C. rockers Dot Dash. The boys in that band will be promoting their superb new one, Searchlights, out now on TheBeautifulMusic.com. More details on the official Dot Dash Facebook page.